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Twin ‘warriors’ battle through first weekend after surgery

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(CNN)From his bed next to the window, Jadon squeezes his father’s finger with all his might, even under heavy sedation. Anias rests in a bed near the door of the room, a testament to strength and resilience.

Just the sight of the boys in separate beds came as a surprise to their parents.
    “It’s shockingly new,” said their mother, Nicole McDonald. The boys have shared a bed since birth.
    Born conjoined at the head, the 13-month-old twins — little “warriors,” their parents call them — spent the weekend recovering from the 27-hour surgery that separated them.
    “I can’t wait to put them beside each other and them see each other,” said Christian, their father. “To be honest, I’m just so excited and anxious to see that moment. That’s going to be a great day.”

    72 critical hours

    The surgery — which began early Thursday and ended shortly before 1 p.m. Friday — took place at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. It was led by neurosurgeon Dr. James Goodrich, considered the leading expert on what’s known as craniopagus surgery.
    The first 72 hours of recovery are most critical for long-term survival, doctors told the parents. Christian said the boys were stable and doing well after a weekend of challenges.

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    And now here the family was, together.
    Over the weekend, Nicole took to Facebook to thank the “heroes” at Montefiore — from Goodrich to his nurse practitioner, from lead plastic surgeon Dr. Oren Tepper to anesthesiologists, from nurses to volunteers.
    “As absolutely humbled as I am for all of the encouraging messages I’ve received, it’s hard for me to take any credit for the miracle that these boys are,” Nicole wrote. “All I did was birth beautiful, unique children and love them with all I have. There are mothers everywhere who do that on a daily basis. I’d like to direct the attention back to the true heroes of our story.”
    Both parents gave up their jobs and moved from their Illinois town of 5,000 to the Bronx to be near the hospital. They’ve been relying on donations to make ends meet over the last year, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from complete strangers.
    Since the surgery started, their GoFundMe page has swelled from some $50,000 to more than $250,000. The family is now asking anyone who wants to help the twins to instead make a donation to a family friend whose child is in need of a kidney transplant.

    Faith and healing

    Messages of support from strangers proved a powerful distraction during the hours of waiting while the twins were in surgery, Christian said. He and Nicole said they felt the love and prayers sent their way. They monitored the hashtag #JadonAndAnias as people tweeted about “our beautiful boys.”
    “If it wasn’t for all these people sending us messages and donating, we wouldn’t have been able to keep such a positive outlook,” Christian said.
    “What I really want to say to the thousands who supported us,” Christian said, “is that we are blown away how total strangers can and do love our boys so much. And their love for our boys poured out of them through their messages and donations.”
    And that’s something the McDonalds say they will never forget. It’s been “a long, hard journey getting to this point,” Christian added.

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    “We’re finally seeing the fruits of our labors and our long, hard nights.”
    In her Facebook post, Nicole said her family also couldn’t have made it this far if it weren’t for their faith.
    “Without God we would have unraveled many, many months ago,” she said. “People say we have handled this situation with grace, but it’s with God’s grace that we continue on.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/16/health/conjoined-twins-recovery-parents/index.html

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